How to Infect Large Groups of People

– with a creative passion for saving energy.


The secret is ALL about passion.  You must be passionate about your goal, and a bit fanatical to achieve it!

Here’s my story.

My entire life has revolved around using a minimum of resources, both energy and material.  I cannot remember a time when it did not.  Raised to appreciate what little we had – and to use it sparingly – I did not know we were poor.  We had what we needed.

In 2003 as an employee of a large company, I stepped up my involvement in conservation of energy and resources by volunteering for our newly-formed energy and water reduction teams.  I began to discover how team synergy could achieve much more than just the combined efforts of individuals!  In this case, 1+1+1+1 = 6, which is greater than 4.  But team-building takes time.

I was surprised when courses of action and solutions that, to me, seemed plainly obvious to pursue, were oftentimes viewed with skepticism or revelation – by others.  But determined confidence has a way of pushing these ideas through!  In three years we managed to make obscene reductions in the amount of energy and water used.  I tracked our metrics, or KPI’s, on a “unit basis” and regularly reported the improvements via data and graphs in Powerpoint presentations to managers and leaders of our company.  Regular feedback to the teams helped them to enjoy their success – although I’m confident the implementaton of innovations and modifications alone would have buoyed them.

Year after year, reductions in energy and water were made.

In 2006 a position was created and I was promoted to energy czar at our company.  I now have a leadership role in reducing energy use.  Where previously I was one of many noble resources, now I became the inspiration, the passion behind the group effort.  I added a few teams so more of us could continue to pick the fruit.  But the fruit was disappearing.

Simple and technical innovations had carried us far, until now.  When 20% of time and effort achieves 80% of the possible savings, life is good.  But there is a pause in your journey when your teams realize that nearly all the bigger, lower-hanging fruit has been picked!


At this point, many get discouraged!  It takes much more effort, and you get smaller returns!  The law of diminishing returns reaches a tipping point.  Now, extra discipline is necessary.  It is time to be MTXE – Mentally Tough with eXtra Effort.  But most are not ready to put in that type of effort, using their most prized resource:  time!

Energy Mindset (Habits), the Hidden Fruit

So instead, apply creative passion to make a difference.  When energy teams realize the good fruit is picked and it is a “waste of time” to scour the orchards in search of lesser fruit, it is time to infect the masses – i.e., everyone, all employees!  Turn away from your simple, technical, and technological energy solutions and go after energy habits!  Your efforts here will create another surge of energy efficiency you didn’t realize was available.

One person infected with a passion to conserve resources and energy – leads a worthy life.  One team infected with passion – can bring about major improvements.  But one entire facility passionately pulsing with an infection of the energy reduction bug – is something to behold.  It will surpass your highest expectations!

This does not happen over night, but as “critical mass” builds, it gathers much momentum.  As your teams energetically “seed” ideas with the masses, allow or even encourage the strongest hecklers to “not bother changing on your account.”  This is an experiment the teams are working with “others.”  Over time these hecklers will surprise you for “leaving them out,” as they start clicking in unison with the others.

“Would you want to spend an extra $530 per month on wasted electricity?  No?  Well, we won’t waste it at work, either!”

Walk around our facility and you will see people turning off lights as they leave rest rooms and offices; workers safely working in sun-lit offices, lights out.  Blinds are closed at night, open in daylight; power strips to computers and monitors being turned off – to eliminate that electricity that continues to flow with equipment off.

How does one get their company to this point?  It takes much effort, doesn’t it?  NO.  It takes one fearless leader to be fanatically different, to explain to others what can be achieved.

So, be contagious; spread the infection to everyone.  Watch the “critical mass” build!  Enjoy your success.  And then please share your ideas with others.

Explore posts in the same categories: Conservation, energy, KPI's, lean, life, metrics, passion

2 Comments on “How to Infect Large Groups of People”

  1. Greg Jerome Says:


    That is exciting. You can make such a big difference by simply changing your habits.
    You talk about turning off lights when you leave a room. I have always wondered, should you turn off a light as soon as you leave a room, even if you are going to return in a few minutes? What is the cut off time? Does it ever make more sense to just leave a lights on for a few minutes?


  2. resourceful Says:

    Greg, I created this post to address your question. Thanks for the nice comments, and thanks for asking. Here it is: Turn Off Fluorescent Lights or Let Them Burn?

    BTW, if you have incandescent lights, by all means turn them off! But better yet, replace them with fluorescents.


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